The wait is finally over. The playoffs are here. Several teams from the Acadiana area are in the dance, and they don't want to leave the party early.

Carencro and Rayne are heavy favorites in the first round of the LHSAA Playoffs, while Cecilia, Breaux Bridge and St. Martinville are playing as underdogs. Beau Chene is hosting their first home playoff game in program history, but they have a tough matchup against a team that is red hot. Each team has a different path through the postseason, but who will get the farthest down the road and possibly reach the blessed turf of the Superdome?

There are sleepers and heavyweights, underdogs and favorites, but at the end of the day, the seeds don't matter when the two teams take the field. Talent, execution and determination will help you advance, otherwise your season is over.

Let's start with the two top dogs in 4A from the Acadiana area, Carencro and Rayne.

(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)
(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)

You don't have to be one of the top four seeds to run the table, and Carencro and Rayne have the potential to become bracket busters as the playoffs progress.

Talentwise, Carencro is loaded to the teeth. Their offense is multiple and deadly. Carl Randall suffered an injury against St. Thomas More, but he's back to full health again and his brothers have his back. On any given play, he can choose between Treylon Barnaba at running back, Eric Tolivour at wideout and the Poullard Twins, Kendarius and Mondarius, all over the field.

Kevin Faulk led Carencro to a state championship as a player, now he traded out his helmet for a headset and is trying to do it again as the Offensive Coordinator.

Linebacker Rashaad Harding and Safety Kordell Williams lead a defense that needs to step up in the playoffs. When they hold teams down, the offense handles their business, but both their losses this season came in shootouts against Teurlings and St. Thomas More. Their defense has the talent, so if they maintain their focus, the Bears could do something special.

The Bears take on the #24 seed Salmen (5-5) in the first round, then possibly the winner of Loranger and St. Martinville in the second round. After that, they are set up for a rematch against Neville, the most dominant team in Class 4A. The players said their goal all season was a chance at revenge against Neville, but a lot of people hoped it would be later than the quarterfinals. Some people would say, "be careful what you wish for," but Carencro isn't scared of anybody.

Rayne is the #7 seed in Class 4A, but their only loss was by one point to LaGrange. Ever since then, the Wolves have been out for blood, dismantling opponents on a weekly basis.

The Wolves have a similar path to the Bears. They will be heavily favored against the #26 seed Lakeshore (5-5), and their second round game against the winner of Benton/A.J. Ellender is winnable. In the quarterfinals, they catch Edna Karr though. Karr is stacked with Division I talent every year, and they're 11-0 this season with impressive wins over Brother Martin, McDonough 35 and Landry-Walker. Rayne is running into a buzzsaw in the quarterfinals, but at that stage of the postseason, anything can happen.

Rayne would love to pull off the quarterfinal upset, but they're not the only local team who will be forced to embrace the underdog role at some point.

(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)
(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)

Mark my words, one of the St. Martin Parish schools is going to pull off an upset in the first round. Breaux Bridge, Cecilia and St. Martinville are all underdogs, but one of them is going to bite.

Even though Breaux Bridge got the best seeding as the #22, they got the worst matchup. The Tigers are paired up with Plaquemine in the first round, whose only losses came to Brother Martin, St. Thomas More and Riverside. The Devils have an explosive offense, and they averaged 50 points per game in their seven wins. The Tigers had a bye week to correct their issues, but their offense is going to need the help of either a touchdown on special teams or tons of takeaways to sound the upset alert. I know it sounds brutal to Breaux Bridge fans, but it's true.

St. Martinville is coming off a double overtime victory against Cecilia to claim a share of the District 5-4A title, and they picked up the #25 seed in the playoff bracket. Vincent Derouen's team had their ups and downs this season, and the people in "The Ville" are hoping the best version of the Tigers show up in the postseason.

They take on the #8 seed Loranger (8-2) in the first round. Loranger started the season off 1-2 with losses to St. Michael and Ponchatoula, and they haven't lost since. The Wolves averaged 38 points per game over their final seven wins of the regular season, and they are going to force St. Martinville to keep up with their offense. Coach Derouen will have his team ready to play, but it's another tough matchup.

Cecilia got the worst seed (#27) but the best matchup. Crazy how that works, huh?

The Bulldogs improved by leaps and bounds from the beginning of the season, and they were close to winning the district title outright. They fought to make it into the playoffs, and they don't want to go bow out in the first round against the #6 seed Woodlawn.

Don't get me wrong, Woodlawn won nine games this year, and that doesn't happen by accident. The issue is, the level of competition they faced isn't on par with Loranger or Plaquemine. On paper, Woodlawn looks like an intimidating squad, but the reality is Cecilia matches up well with them on the football field.

When it comes to talent, the Bulldogs can hang with the Knights. With Corey Williams at QB, who hit a serious growth spurt in his game the last half of the season, Noah Livings and Kaleb Carter on the outside and Devin Briscoe in the backfield, Cecilia is equipped to pull off an upset. Head Coach Dennis Skaynes isn't scared to play his guys both ways either, if it helps them put their best athletes against the opponent's top threats. Of all the St. Martin Parish schools, Cecilia has the best chance to survive and advance.

(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)
(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)

Did you really think I was going to leave out Beau Chene? The Gators get to host their first home playoff game in program history, and Head Coach Josh Guidry deserves some credit.

Some savvy scheduling got the Gators the #15 seed in the playoffs, but they welcome a Leesville team into town that is heating up at the right time of the year. The Wampus Cats won three straight games to steal a piece of the District 3-4A title, and their win over LaGrange trumps any other win on Beau Chene's schedules. I hate to say it, but even though Beau Chene is the higher seed, they're underdogs in this matchup.

Beau Chene is playing with house money though. They already set a school record for wins in a season with their 7-3 overall record, so what do they have to lose?

I also want to mention LaGrange here, as they are set to make a move into District 3-5A, so you better get used to seeing the Gators. They're the #19 seed and headed to play North DeSoto, but I wouldn't even call this a possible upset. I like LaGrange's chances to win and move onto the second round, where they will probably face #3 McDonough 35.

(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)
(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)

The Class 4A is a rugged landscape. There are titans and sleepers, Davids and Goliaths, all throughout the bracket, but sometimes the best stories are the ones you don't expect.

Could Cecilia, Breaux Bridge or St. Martinville pull off a first round upset and bring a second round game back to their fans? Does Carencro or Rayne have what it takes to defeat the likes of Neville or Karr? Will Beau Chene add to their historic season with a first round playoff win? The answer to all our questions is on the football field, where none of the numbers or seeds matter.

There's a mountain to climb ahead of everyone in the Acadiana area, but we're used to defeating the odds. A little adversity doesn't scare us, especially when there's pride on the line.

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